25 years of 'forging the warrior spirit,' preparing troops for combat in Cenla.

Fort Polk, LA. (KALB) The Joint Readiness Training Center has been 'forging the warrior spirit' since 1987 but in 1993, JRTC moved from Fort Chaffee Arkansas to its permanent home at Fort Polk.

Col. David Doyle, commander of JRTC Operations Group poses with distinguished guests that were recognized for their part in JRTC's transition to Fort Polk 25 years ago.

On Monday JRTC Operations group celebrated the 25th anniversary with a ceremony. Retired Army veteran Joseph Saverino was among the guests honored for their roles during the transition. He was a platoon sergeant with the 1st battalion 509th airborne infantry regiment---the opposing force that plays the enemy. Saverino recalled one of their mantras about giving the rotational unit a fight that would be worse than what they might face overseas. "The more notional blood you spill here, the less real blood you'll spill in theater. So we felt our job as opfor was to give them that tough fight, force them into all these types of challenges, make it difficult for them that way they'll learn from it."

Saverino also served as an Observer Controller/Trainer or soldiers in Operations Group who help coach, teach and mentor the thousands of troops that cycle through each year. He explained that while many of the units came to JRTC with a lot of combat experience, there were still some young soldiers about to deploy for the first time.

"To provide another level of knowledge to these guys and make them leave out of here a better unit, better soldiers," he said.

Initially, opfor simulated insurgent and Soviet threats in the mid 1990's. But Saverino said over the years, especially after the September 11th terrorist attacks, rotations grew bigger and more complex.

"We were getting information from theater on the types of experiences and challenges they were meeting. We were then able to incorporate them into the regular rotational training scenarios."

The veteran now works as a safety specialist with Cubic Global Defense, a company that provides training support to Operations Group. Despite retiring from the military in 2006, Saverino continues to be a part of JRTC's legacy.

"I think the most gratifying part is just knowing that in some small way that hopefully I've helped somebody to be able to stay alive and come back home.

Saverino also spent the first four years of his twenty-four year Army career with the 2nd Ranger battalion.